afaqs!

Now, a TV channel to tell you what to watch

By Sapna Nair , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Media Publishing | December 01, 2009
What's On India is launching an exclusive TV Guide channel, which will inform the viewer about what is currently playing on TV

The days of pondering over what to watch on television are over. What's On India Media, the TV Guidance and Electronic Programme Guide, is launching a consumer TV Guidance channel, which will let the viewer know at a glance about what is playing on any channel. The channel, which is currently available to Hathway users, will be the first one that viewers would see when the TV is switched on.

Atul Phadnis, founder, promoter and CEO, What's On India has been researching this concept for some time. Research suggests that 70 per cent of the time; viewers are clueless about what to watch when they switch on the TV. Although this is a non primetime phenomenon, "unplanned viewing", Phadnis says, is on the rise. Increase in the number of channels and a wide variety of programming makes it difficult to choose.

& #BANNER1 & #

What's On India, the channel, will address this issue by continuously presenting information on the shows playing across channels at that instant. Till now, What's On India had made this available as a feature, which could be accessed with the help of a button on the remote. For this, the company had tied up with leading DTH and cable operators.

Over the last three years, the company has been gauging the impact of the advent of numerous channels in the television space. A study conducted in the US two years ago states that almost 67 per cent television consumption is unplanned.

"We figured that most TV viewing sessions start with the question 'what to watch?'. There is also insecurity in the viewer -- whether he/she is missing something interesting on TV. This could be a movie, live matches or any event that the viewer is unaware of. The basic premise is the growing incidence of unplanned viewing, which is as high as 85 per cent among males," Phadnis explains.

Internationally, where this concept has been prevalent for long, the tendency among viewers is to constantly check in and out of the channel to get the latest update. As per inferences of the research, the channel will recommend a vast variety of programme choices in 'Now' and 'Next' time frames. While the focus of the channel will be on the content playing at that time, scrolls below the screen will feature other programmes across channels.

The revenue model for this free-to-air channel will be advertising driven. Phadnis expects broadcasters, as well as mainline advertisers, to come on-board. The channel will have ad breaks like any other channel, but a part of the screen will always be dedicated to the content.

Almost all cable and DTH operators have signed up with What's On India; by the first quarter of 2010, the channel hopes to reach 20 million homes. "We have not come across a single operator who hasn't vowed by the project," Phadnis asserts.

The channel will be promoted on-air across other channels and off-air by the operators. Specific activities will be undertaken, such as road shows in the metros to introduce the concept to viewers, give them an opportunity to touch and feel and receive feedback. The channel will begin promotions by January 2010.